No, they would never know any of that. A gift they didn’t receive, though one we may share when they have their own kids. By the same token, they also haven’t known of the boundary issues. I was careful not to tell them what I felt was inappropriate for a child to know. I never dragged them to a therapy appointment—in fact, I was so sensitive about not forcing them to do things that I rarely ever went on any errands while they were with me. I was intent on letting their free time be their free time, and I went grocery shopping while they were in school or elsewhere. I never would have asked them to fight my battles with the German government or anyone else. I’ve impressed upon them countless times—especially following my divorce from their father—that their parents’ happiness is in no way their responsibility or burden. Not now, not ever. They’ve never been subjected to a fight between a parent and a grandparent. Once would have been hard to take; many over the course of years would have been to them, as it was to me, pure trauma.
They’ve never felt any great responsibility, whether with pride or burden or a combination thereof, to carry a legacy or pass something on. They bear no story, and they take care of no one else. Almost to an extreme, perhaps. They know very roughly what happened to Bubby, and they had her in their lives enough so that they both remember her, but they aren’t a receptacle for the details of the story. They haven’t grown up hearing about the Lodz Ghetto or stealing the potatoes in the dead of the night or of years of starvation or of seeing your mother be led to a certain death. They haven’t had to rifle through books with dead corpses to find a magazine or school paper they were looking for. They haven’t had an innocent question about hair or food answered with a Holocaust reference. The story is part of their family history. It is not, however, their present; nor is it their responsibility.
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